The craziness started with my carefully planned out day - the one where I only left myself 5 minutes for braiding. How we even made it there in time to show is a mystery to me
I picked up my pace a little and saved a few minutes on my braiding by doing thicker and fatter braids. Laurel arrived a bit early, so even after a few minutes spent persuading Izzy to get the heck on the trailer, we managed to pull out right on time.
As we laughed and chatted our way down the two lane country highway, I realized I was looking at some unfamiliar territory; I had missed the turn which would take us towards Woodlake. I pulled over to the shoulder while Laurel used her phone's GPS to figure out where we were. It was to be the joke of the day - how many times could we piss Siri off by turning on the wrong road. Apparently, Siri loves the phrase, MAKE A U-TURN!
The last straw was actually making it to Woodlake only to encounter a detour that took us around the entire town. By that point, Laurel and I were in complete hysterics. It took us two iphones, a ticked off Siri, a crappy set of Google directions, numerous u-turns, and a full extra hour of driving before we pulled into the beautiful Sequoia Hills Stables.
I can't say enough about the show management and the facility. Parking was easy, the show office was clearly marked, and we were greeted by friendly and helpful volunteers. In no time at all we were back on schedule. While Laurel groomed Izzy, I switched into my show clothes and then tacked Izzy up. Laurel grabbed my bag of stuff while I led Izzy to an over-sized round pen.
Using Chemaine's strategy, I quietly lunged Izzy with the draw reins until he started to stretch his back and relax. Laurel kept me company by chatting over the fence. With her easy going conversation, I focused on keeping myself relaxed and confident, and Izzy followed suit. By this time, Laurel noted that Izzy kept looking to the two of us for reassurance. Wherever Laurel went, Izzy was happy to follow. We had quickly become his herd.
I had the warm up to myself, thanks to clever planning on the show manager's part (she knew this was Izzy's first show so we were first to go after lunch). I walked Izzy for quite a while just letting him look around. We eventually picked up a baby trot and simply focused on staying relaxed.
As my ride time approached, Laurel encouraged Izzy to follow her as we made the walk over to the show ring. He kept his nose right between her shoulder blades.
My honest to goodness goals for the day were a) get him to stand somewhat still while I tacked up, b) let me get on without a rodeo, and c) trot in the warm up. There was no d) - I didn't even think we'd make it into the show ring.
After the horrible rides we'd had earlier in the week, I had seriously considered not even going. Chemaine, my trainer, talked me down off the ledge reminding me that it was just a schooling show and that Izzy needs experience.
So while some critics might scoff at the work we did in the ring, I couldn't be happier. Even Laurel, who sees him every day, was blown away by how hard Izzy tried. She hadn't expected me to be able to ride him either.
The judge's Further Remarks were quite accurate and are our blue print going forward, "Much tension throughout with very short strides in both gaits. Often above bit." Well yes, that's all very true.
Look for test B tomorrow. It was actually a tiny bit better!